Unfolding processes of timbre and memory in improvisational piano performance
This exposition is an introduction to my research and practice as a pianist, in which I unfold processes of timbre and memory in improvised music from a performer’s perspective.
Timbre is often understood as a purely sonic perceptual phenomenon. However, this is not in accordance with a site-specific improvisational practice with changing spatial circumstances impacting the listening experience, nor does it take into account the agency of the instrument and objects used or the performer’s movements and gestures.
In my practice, I have found a concept as part of the creating process in improvised music which has compelling potential: Timbre orchestration. My research takes the many and complex aspects of a performance environment into account and offers an extended understanding of timbre, which embraces spatial, material and bodily aspects of sound in improvised music performance.
The investigative projects described in this exposition offer a methodology to explore timbral improvisational processes integrated into my practice, which is further extended through collaborations with sound engineers, an instrument builder and a choreographer:
-experiments in amplification and recording, resulting in Memory piece, a series of works for amplified piano and multichannel playback
- Piano mapping, a performance approach, with a custom-built device for live spatialization as means to expand and deepen spatio-timbral relationships;
- Accretion, a project with choreographer Toby Kassell for three grand pianos and a pianist, where gestural approaches are used to activate and compose timbre in space.
Together, the projects explore memory as a structural, reflective and performative tool and the creation of performing and listening modes as integrated parts of timbre orchestration. Orchestration and choreography of timbre turn into an open and hybrid compositional approach, which can be applied to various contexts, engaging with dynamic relationships and re-configuring them.